I’m really trying but…

I am going to scream. Yet again I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Being completely honest with you I don’t think I know which to do because I am so utterly shocked. When Dad died I decided I wanted to do something with my life and so I decided that this year on what should be his birthday I am going to attempt to cycle the Coast to Coast. Cycling to raise funds for the charity my Dad worked for most of his life and also for the hospice where he died.

I thought this was something my sister and I could do together, but she wasn’t keen. Instead, I have ended up with various family members saying they may or may not do it. To be honest, it’s turned into a total nightmare and it’s on my ‘to deal with’ list, but it hasn’t quite gotten to the top. People are arguing over when, how many days it should be. I know these people all want to do it to remember Dad but I’m getting to the point I will be glad when it’s all over.

Anyway, I decided on cycling as, as well as providing a fun challenge, it would mean I could justify going for a bike ride. Cycling is something that I really enjoy, but when there are houses to clean or fix up, rabbits to spend time with, parents to care for… well, let’s just say it’s been on the back burner for the last few years. I knew I was going to struggle with time for me when Dad died and I had a mum, so I hoped cycling for a cause would help me find time to look after me.

So far it hasn’t happened. But the weather has been awful so I haven’t massively tried to get out. Although I did want to over Christmas and couldn’t get, but that’s another story. Anyway, I am aware July is fast approaching and something has gotten to give.

Then I was approached by a group of friends and asked to take part in a local charity cycle challenge. It’s 100km and is happening in April, I said yes as it should help prepare me for the Coast to Coast for Dad and heck if I can do that while raising some funds for charity I am in. Text Mum to tell her the news and she came back with “well, what am I going to do that day?”

The fact that was her first response has made me as angry and it has sad. I am killing myself trying to juggle spending time with her alongside working full time and having some sort of life for me. I have lost count of the number of times I haven’t made it to bed before midnight as I have stayed late at hers. The number of times I have gone round, despite it being my night off, as she has been ill or lonely… I constantly feel guilty and like I am losing myself at the same time.

I need her to be fighting with me. Fighting for me. I’ve already had to take a day off work this week because she had a hospital appointment and couldn’t go alone. She keeps saying she doesn’t want me to put my life on hold to look after her, but every. single. time I do something for me I end up feeling bad about it and having to worry about her instead.

I don’t know what I am going to do. It’s not fair. My sister seems to have managed to escape all of it. The bonus of not living as close I suppose. But I can’t help but resent that her life goes on while mine is so altered. Dad’s dying didn’t just take my Dad from me, it has taken a lot of my future hopes and dreams with it. I don’t want it to take my identity as well.

Too much stuff.

I feel this is one of those posts that might make me come across as a complete ass… if that is the case I apologise in advance but I do feel this is something we are all guilty of, and a conversation with a friend of mine got me thinking I had to share my thoughts on here. I have too much stuff. I don’t know where it has come from, but everywhere I look I seem to have nothing but junk, and it is leaving me with a feeling of being cluttered and overcrowded and I hate it.

I look around my house and all I see is clutter. I open my handbag and it’s filled with a million and one things that I carry with me on a daily basis and I have no idea why I carry them with me, a receipt for a Panasonic 4K TV which I must have picked up in error thinking it was mine because that’s the sort of thing I do. If i see a spare receipt I will pick it up assuming it’s mine and must have fallen out of my pocket and I carry it around for the next month or three! Painkillers, my diary, my purse, tampons, eye drops for mum, perfume, chewing gum, sweets from about 3 weeks ago, a second purse for all the store cards, I kept not using as I couldn’t find them, which now have their own purse but still don’t get used because I forget… it just makes it all feel very cluttered.

It’s the same with my desk, I just seem to have crap all over it. I am envious of other people who neat, clean tidy desks. I just don’t manage it. My car boot, my house, my shed, the garage that I rent… it’s all just full of stuff and I feel like I am drowning under the weight of it. I don’t like it, but at the same time, I don’t feel like I can throw it out.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (nothing like a subtle plug, am I right?) will know that I have recently discovered the Marie Kondo method of decluttering, look at my drawers, and like others before me, I am converted. In the act of full transparency, I should point out that I am about only 3 weeks into this “new me” but the fact that I am choosing to roll my trousers and put them away in their assigned draw, despite it being midnight and despite me wearing them the next day. I just love the feeling of putting everything into its right place. I am addicted to how easy it is to find things when they are away, and the change has done more than just sorted out my drawers. Now I feel “joy” for everything I own the way I am dressing has changed. I am making more of an effort with my appearance (read – I am doing my hair, rather than sticking it up into a sort of bun all day every day) and I feel better about myself.

However, having decluttered one area of my life has meant I’m finding it harder to deal with the other areas in my life that aren’t cluttered. I have too many toiletries, for years they seem to have been the go-to presents for a number of people and I am useless of using them. I have too much food in my cupboard. If I see something reduce I buy it to use later, only I never seem to reach later. I have an urge to just walk through my house throwing everything out and starting all over again but as I hate waste I can’t bring myself to. So I am trying to use it up. I am really trying to use things I have rather than buy stuff new, but I am just so bad at that. If I go into a shop I find it hard to walk about without buying things – I have spent £60 on groceries in the last 2 weeks and I LIVE ALONE. No idea who I am feeding with all this food, Poppy doesn’t eat that much kale.

I am trying to get into a routine, food planning using things from the cupboards. But I seem to be so busy that I’m struggling to find time to cook anything that isn’t pasta with grated cheese on it and on the evenings I do have time to cook I am heading to my mums. The other day a shop was giving away some free stuff, and despite having no room I took so much home with me. I am planning on re-gifting the stuff throughout the year, but at the moment it means I can’t get into my spare room. Oh, and some of the birthdays I am planning on re-gifting for… happening in JUNE. That’s 6 months with an oversized vase and nowhere for it to live. I am so worried about living outside my budget, that I’m not planning properly as I am finding the whole finance thing just a little bit scary. I did try downloading some of those finance apps that you can get, but I’m so awful at keeping track of my finances and I am unsure how to start I keep putting it off until next month. I tried that say £5 every time you get given one money saving method, and survived 2 weeks before I needed to dip into it for a swim and I haven’t been given £5 since.

I really have an urge to draw a line in the sand and start again. But I don’t know how and because I don’t know how I keep putting it off. S has asked me to go away with him this year and we are potentially looking at having to spend £2000 on flights. I really want to be able to go and to have sensibly saved up for the holiday, rather than bankrupting myself and worrying later, but I don’t know where to start?!



*disclaimer. This is a sponsored post but the complete mess of far too many material possessions is a very real problem of mine.

Time to start caring

I’m fuming, which seems to be the mood it takes at the moment for me to write a blog post, but hey if it gets me writing…

I have always been brought up to be able to discuss and appreciate others people’s opinions but the fact that people are laughing at the current state of our world has me furious. It isn’t funny.

The fact that the Tory government are systematically dismantling the NHS IS NOT FUNNY! The fact that the next American president has taken shots at the disabled, is openly racists, thinks climate change is a hoax and thinks that “grab ‘em by the pussy” is an appropriate thing to say IS TERRIFYING!

When my Dad was first diagnosed with Cancer, I thought but he can’t be dying… he’s too good… I try to be like him but I am not. I am not that selfless, I don’t let go of wrongs that have been done to me as easily as he appeared to. I aspire every day to be like him, but I do not measure up. I don’t even come close. I am not good enough, I am not that beacon for light and goodness and everything the world so needs right now. I am trying so hard to be,  since his death I have taken a much more active role in politics, volunteered to do some charity work and decided I will be that voice that calls out discrimination when I see it, who will stand up for the little guy and won’t look the other way because “that doesn’t concern me” because although it might not concern you in the here and now, you have to think about the future.

The southern rail strikes inconvenience you? Well suck it up sunshine, jobs are at risk and now it has become apparent that because of the proposed changes disabled passengers will, in future, not be able to access all trains that southern rail run. Instead, they will be offered a taxi or a later train. Honestly, my mind boggles that in this day and age this is even legal.

You believe the lie that the junior doctors strike is nothing more than a pay dispute? Well get out there and educate yourself. In this day and age, with the rise of social media there really is no excuse as to why you can’t be clued up about stories and, and I hate to say this, you can no longer trust mainstream media. So look elsewhere, question what you are told and then form and opinion.

The I am having to attend a march on Saturday to protest for unity, in this day and age, horrifies me. How can we think ourselves a developed society when people are treated differently based on their sex or creed or sexual orientation… I have worked in a job where I was not given the same bonuses, career opportunities and recognition purely because I am a woman. It makes the brain boggle.

You think you can’t do anything? Grow a pair.

People who think that was is happening is right, whilst they terrify me, that’s fine. You have your opinions and you are entitled to them. Both those people who just roll over and say “well it’s happening so…” While there is breath in your body and a fire in your belly you can make a change. Stand together in unity, look after each other. When people look back on this period of time and trust me, they will, you will have to explain to your children why you let this happen. As you have you know. Sitting there saying not my problem, is short sighted and kinda makes me want to slap you. It’s all well and good while you are sat there in your well-paid jobs, with your healthy family and work perks. What happens if you lose that job though and there is no state funded support? What happens when your child gets ill and needs to see a doctor – for how long could you afford to pay those bills?

Yes, there are people who flaunt the system, and the fact people can earn more on benefits than working is wrong. Changes need to be made. But we can’t stop helping those in need because of a bad few eggs.

To make this real for you. When my Mum was given the small payout from my Dad’s life insurance, she suddenly had too much money to be entitled to support. That means that she is now having to pay out over £1000 a month to have people come into her house and care for her for an hour a day. Yep, £1000 a month for someone to wash and dress her, as she physically is unable to do that for herself. This isn’t her choice, this isn’t because she is lazy. This is because she developed rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 16 and her main carer died suddenly after a 7 month battle with cancer. And Mum is going to have to continue paying out that money until there is no money left. She doesn’t work. She physically can’t. So her only income is her state pension, I suppose she should count herself lucky she has a pension, chances are I won’t. She will outlive my Dad’s life insurance payout, Right now I have no idea what will happen when we reach that point. Off the top of my head she will probably have to sell her house and move in with one of us, only we both live in houses with stairs and she no longer copes with stairs so I will have to sell my house and move somewhere new. All because the state does not want to support those in need.

And my story isn’t unique, and if you think “that will never happen to me” you are wrong. This could happen to any of us, well apart from those of us lucky enough to be really rich and have mates in politics 😉

I feel better after my rant. Calmer. I feel I need a point to sum it all up, and would you believe I actually have one. If you see what is going on with the world and agree with it. You are happy with President Trump, the selling off of our countries most valuable assets, well then I respect you. Well as much as one can. But you have an opinion and you stand by it and I will respect you for that, even when your opinions disagree with my own. However, for those of you who can’t bring yourself to care, who think that this isn’t my problem. You are wrong, this is your problem, so go out there get yourself an opinion and start giving a shit.

A 2016 critique

Firstly, I have to give credit where it is due and admit that today’s post is inspired by the lovely Alice at More Than Toast. I loved her “what 2016 taught me post” and felt like maybe looking back on last year and seeing how far I have overcome might not only be cathartic for me but may FINALLY be the missing piece in the jigsaw to getting some sort of blogging mojo back.

Not to pull any punches 2016 was shit and followed a number of years which have been getting gradually shitter for the last 10 years. Yep, how terrifying is that not only has my life been on a downhill slide for a while now, but I am also old enough to refer to things that happened 10 years ago and not be referring to my childhoodL

10 years ago I graduated Uni. I had my forensics degree and I had secured a job in the local police force. I think I was about as happy as I could have been. The future was bright and I was ready to embrace it.

Sadly, the job with the local police force was where it was all going wrong. 5 years of constant mind games and horrendous bullying I walked out one Christmas Eve a broken woman. I wasn’t eating, wasn’t sleeping and had reached levels of low I never thought myself capable of. However, the one positive I thought I had come away with was I had met OH. Ha ha. My time lines get a little blurry, but I think I must have had a couple of ok(ish) years before OH kicked me out of our house 9 months after buying it. Then came Raoul, then Grandad got bowel cancer, and within a week of his “all clear” Dad got his terminal diagnosis.

I entered 2016 knowing there was a good change my Dad would not come out of the other side of it. I hoped and prayed for a miracle but on the 24th June, the day the world was watching Brexit happen I watched my Dad take his last breath. He took one final breath in, and never breathed out.

I have no idea how I survived it. My Dad was my rock, the one person I could rely on and the world is a much darker place without him in it. Two weeks after burying my Dad, my Mum had a heart attack and I was back to hospital visits and predictions of gloom.

2016 wasn’t all bad. The one positive has been that S and I had our first date. He has become something of a rock for me, which is as terrifying as it is useful. Having someone who I can call when things get rough means a lot, the ass kicking he gives me when I need it, the motivation he gives me to keep moving forwards is something I need. But it does make me worry. I am in a position where I have no idea what I would do if he left; he is my grip on reality and the one ray I can see in an extremely bleak life.

Mums care has fallen on me. I know it would, it’s why she moved to be closer to me but I had no idea quite how much time it would take. I feel that I have stopped being me and I don’t see an end. That’s the thing that seems to get to me at the moment; I don’t know when this will end. We thought we just had to survive Dad dying, but then I had to get through the heart attack, then there has been a whole plethora of other health issues. Every time we get one beat we seem to be faced with another one. And I don’t see an end. I don’t know where to turn to for help, and I worry I am drowning.

I just want to give up, walk away from it all. I would love to go somewhere where nobody knows my name and I could make my life what I wanted it to be, rather than this disaster it appears to have become. I feel like I am trying and failing at everything I put my hand to. I am constantly fighting with my sister, the family has fallen apart and I worry I am not enough to fill the shoes my Dad left behind.

So, to get this back to where I started, what have I learnt from 2016? Well, I have learnt that I am strong and that I can’t be broken. I am either too stubborn or too stupid to stop fighting I don’t know how to. 2016 is the year I faced the worse thing I thought would ever happen to me, something I didn’t think I would have to face until I was a proper adult (although 2016 has also made me realise there are no proper adults, we are all just sucking it and seeing) and I made it through to the other side. I am bruised, I am shaken but I am not broken.

I am also a lot braver that I was this time last year. I stress a lot less and I don’t waste time worrying, well not as much as I did. There’s no point. Things that would have once terrified me don’t as much. In fact, my only concern is that I don’t waste my life, as I know life is short and every second is precious.

So here’s to 2016, you took so much but you also taught so much. 2017, any chance you fancy being kinder?

I worry too much when I am in a relationship.

Breaking news alert, I am a worrier. I know, hold the front page. But I think my worrier tendencies means it so much easier for me when I am single.

My lovely friend, from Uni, has invited me to go and visit him for a weekend, he lives in Ireland. I’ve found some cheap flights and I’m all good to do. But then I couldn’t help but think, will S want to come with me? Will he be upset that I’ve taken off for a weekend to Ireland and not invited him?

But then I worry about my friend. It’s been ages since I had a proper catch up with him, will he mind that I am bringing S along?

I am so busy worrying about what the other two will think I don’t know what I want. Which I think is half of the problem, despite all the evidence being that S does like me and things are going well, I am still waiting for him to leave. This means that I am VERY wary of giving up my independence. I don’t want to go back to that person who feels she has to be with someone, and I mean anyone not just a fella, to be able to go out.

On Saturday night it was our works Christmas do, and at one point I wanted to go and dance, but no one else was feeling it at the moment. I sat for a while, worrying I would miss out on a night of dancing, before finally thinking “fudge it” and I went and danced by myself.

Now, although to some people that might not be a big thing. To me that was huge.

I know it is an old cliché but before meeting S I was properly, and maybe for the first time in a position where I was totally and utterly 100% happy and contented being single. Yes, I know, and I am sorry. But I was. A lot of my friends were also single (which I think helps) and my nights and weekends, for the most part, were taken up by me doing what I wanted to do. For the first time ever, I was putting myself first, being utterly selfish and I loved it.

Having to stop being selfish is really hard. Trying to find the right level of keeping that slightly selfish, and strong, part of me whilst adapting to the new person I am with him I am struggling with.

I firmly believe that for a relationship to work, people have to be willing to change. Compromises have to be made, and you have to give up on being selfish. I think relationships last when both parties make those changes.

I like that S is in my life. I am happy to compromise for him, and I do think he brings out the best in me.

I think I just need to stop worrying about focusing on how I pick up the pieces if this all goes wrong, and instead work hard at making sure everything goes right.